David Marshall Rollo, a leader in Tulsa choral music for over a half-century, a friend and mentor to many, passed away on April 25, 2017, at the age of 74, of complications from pneumonia. I was blessed to know David for 40 years as his student at Holland Hall, as a singer under his direction at Coventry Chorale, and as a friend.

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David will be remembered by family and friends this Saturday, June 24, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 501 S. Cincinnati, in downtown Tulsa. David's former students at Holland Hall will perform de Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium during the prelude to the service, at approximately 10:45 am. During the service, the Trinity Choir will perform "The Lord Is My Shepherd," the setting of Psalm 23 by the late Trinity choirmaster and organist Thomas Matthews. (Holland Hall alumni wishing to sing O Magnum Mysterium during the prelude are requested to arrive at the Trinity choir room (in the basement) by 10:15 to rehearse. The Trinity choir will rehearse at 10.)

David_Rollo-HH_Early.jpgA Cleveland native, David came to the University of Tulsa for college, earning a bachelor's and master's degrees in vocal performance, under the direction of the legendary Arthur Hestwood. David toured for a year with Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians. In 1967, he joined the faculty of Holland Hall, serving as vocal music instructor, chairman of the fine arts department, and director of student activities, retiring in 1996. He also served for a time as director of the Tulsa Community Chorus at Tulsa Junior College. In 1982, David founded Coventry Chorale, a mixed-voice chorus performing classical and sacred music, serving as its artistic director and conductor until the Chorale's final concert in 2005. In the 1970s, David was choir director at Christ United Methodist Church; he joined the choir of Trinity Episcopal Church in 1980 and remained a Trinity parishoner from that point onward. David recorded two albums with his choirs: Holland Hall Concert Chorus, Standing Ovation, 1977; Coventry Chorale, The Lord Is My Shepherd: A Tribute to Thomas Matthews, 2002.

I first encountered Mr. Rollo as a freshman, a mediocre alto saxophonist in Holland Hall's then-tiny instrumental music ensemble, and then as a sophomore in his music theory class. His office, right next to the Commons, was a favorite hangout for many students, particularly those involved in music. Sometime during my sophomore year, I went to see his office to see him about tickets for the school musical. He complimented my speaking voice and asked if I'd ever thought about trying out for Concert Chorus. I hadn't, but at his encouragement, I did, and I made the cut. The following year I made it into the school's twelve-voice Madrigal Singers.

David Rollo believed that high school students were capable of singing great music beautifully, and under his tutelage we sang Mozart's "Sparrow Mass," settings of Te Deum by Mozart and Haydn, Mendelssohn's "O for the Wings of a Dove," Bach's Cantata BWV 159, Benjamin Britten's setting of Hodie Christus Natus Est, Randall Thompson's "Last Words of David" and "Frostiana," English and French and Italian madrigals, and, of course, the anthems of Trinity organist and choirmaster Thomas Matthews. We did popular and modern music, too. We sang a fall concert (popular) and a spring concert (classical), at Lessons and Carols, and out in the community -- for example, at St. Aidan's for the ordination of the school's chaplain, Father Ibn Masud Syedullah, which gave us an introduction to Anglican chant. Is there any Tulsa high school today, public or private, singing the challenging repertoire that David Rollo taught his students?

There may have been a few students in the chorus that had personal vocal training, but for most of us what we learned about singing, David Rollo taught us during our hour-long rehearsal every other day. He taught us to enunciate, to use our diaphragms, to produce head tones and sing without vibrato.

David opened nearly every Holland Hall Concert Chorus rehearsal with O Magnum Mysterium, a polyphonic setting of a Christmas responsorial chant by 16th century Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria. The song was always a part of Holland Hall's annual service of Lessons and Carols at Trinity, but during rehearsals David used O Magnum to teach us to tune our notes, to listen to one another, to blend our voices, and to taper every phrase. He would often have us mix ourselves, so that no one was standing next to anyone singing the same part. Here is a recording of the piece by the 1977 edition of the Holland Hall Concert Chorus, conducted by David Rollo:

After high school graduation, I sang for Mr. Rollo in the Tulsa Junior College Community Chorus. I remember a Fourth of July concert on the west bank of the river, performing Peter J. Wilhousky's arrangement of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." I found a news article from 1993 saying that David had served as an adjunct instructor at TJC for 48 semesters.

After college, my wife and I joined Coventry Chorale. David stretched the abilities of this amateur group with Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil (a cappella and in Russian), requiem masses by Mozart, Fauré, Duruflé, and Saint-Saëns; Puccini's Messa di Gloria; and works by modern Oklahoma composers such as TU Professor Joseph Rivers ("Tempests Round Us Gather"), Louis Ballard ("The Gods Will Hear"), and Thomas Matthews. Although Trinity was home, Coventry performed at Episcopal churches in Ponca City, Ada, Pryor, and Okmulgee, at OK Mozart, a concert of Gilded Age music connected with an exhibition at Philbrook, for the centennial celebrations of Holy Family Cathedral, and newly-composed Shabbat service music at Temple Israel.

One of my favorite concerts to sing involved a series of a cappella Anglican anthems that David had selected from renaissance composers like Thomas Tallis and William Byrd and settings of old songs by 20th century composers ("Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" by Elizabeth Poston, "Faire Is the Heaven" by William Henry Harris).

On September 11, 2002, David organized and led Tulsa's participation in the Rolling Requiem, a worldwide memorial for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, beginning in each time zone around the world at 9:46 am local time, circling the globe with Mozart's "Requiem." Over a thousand people crowded into Trinity for the service. The following year Faure's Requiem was performed, and the tradition continued for some years after for Trinity's annual 9/11 remembrance.

It was through David that my wife and I became acquainted with Tulsa Boy Singers, and years later our sons would get their start in musical education and performance with TBS, providing a solid foundation for their involvement in instrumental music.

David was deeply involved in the life of Trinity Episcopal Church. He was a longtime choir member, served as vestryman and headed the liturgy and worship committee, and in later years served at the church's reception desk during the week. For a few years, I had the joy of singing alongside David, at his invitation, as one of the Wise Men at Trinity's Epiphany procession, singing the Willcocks/Rutter Matin Responsory ("I Look from Afar").

But it's not enough to talk about David's musical accomplishments. David's genuine warmth and good humor, particularly his love of groan-worthy puns, are an essential part of what made him unforgettable to those who sang for him and caused him to become not merely a teacher and conductor but a genuine friend. If no one else remembered your birthday, you could count on getting a card from David.

David was a prolific communicator, emailing the latest terrible pun or shaggy-dog story to his long list of friends. He was vocal about his political opinions as well, forwarding articles to his friends, and a frequent writer of letters to the editor. From time to time, David would send me a story idea or a comment on my latest article. His political opinions might be classified as common-sense conservative: Supporting the troops and expressions of patriotism, opposing public funding for dams in the Arkansas River, supporting the idea of moving election day to the weekend. Our last email exchange was in mid-April: He wrote, with disdain, about the news that MIT Press was publishing a book called Communism for Kids.

Last fall David wrote some topical limericks that were published in the Tulsa World:

We've gone through election muck,
For 160 days we are stuck
With a mayor whose term
Ends in December, that's firm.
We wish G.T. Bynum good luck!

The Donald (with last name of Trump)
Deserves a good kick in the rump.
For he was recorded
Making comments so sordid.
Now Trump really looks like a chump.

David's friends knew of his health challenges stretching back for over 20 years, the effect, one suspected, of decades of smoking, overeating, living alone, and generally not taking care of his health. He amazed everyone by battling through some ferocious illnesses and was with us longer than we dared hope -- but still gone too soon.

Requiescat in pace, Señor Notas.

ONE MORE THING: Here's a memory of David's ability to think on his feet from that November 1989 concert of American music and Coventry Chorale's performance of Louis Ballard's "The Gods Will Hear." This was a complex piece of music, with multiple rhythms, unusual instrumentation, and many tempo and key changes. The concert was being recorded for later broadcast on KWGS. At one point, David, while conducting, had to play a bullroarer -- a carved piece of wood at the end of a string that makes a load roaring noise when you whirl the rope rapidly in a circle. During a particularly rapid passage, David made a quick page turn and pulled the middle pages right off the staples and off the stand. The chorale tried to continue but soon got lost, sounding like a phonograph winding down when the power is suddenly cut. David cut us off, retrieved the prodigal pages from the floor, told us to go back to a clean starting point a few pages earlier, and counted us in. When I listened to the broadcast several months later, I braced myself in anticipation of the crash, but the edit was seamless.

MORE MEMORIES:

San Antonio's Majestic Theatre facade, by Michael Bates (IMG_0547)

A friend asked me recently where I stood on the issue of design guidelines in zoning, particularly as it affects property rights and a proposed overlay district for downtown Tulsa. I referred him to a sampling relevant articles from the BatesLine archive, in which I discuss zoning generally and defend the idea of overlay districts such as neighborhood conservation districts, urban conservation districts, and historic preservation districts. I thought the links might be of broader interest:

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This Friday, May 26, 2017, at 7:30 pm, the Tulsa Boy SIngers will perform their farewell concert at Trinity Episcopal Church, 5th & Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa.

The program includes many classical and popular favorites from over the years: Haydn's Missa Brevis, "Skylark" by Johnny Mercer, Palestrina's Sicut cervus, Franck's "Panis Angelicus," "The Father's Love" by Lole, a medley from the musical Oliver!, and many more selections.

Tulsa Boy Singers was founded in 1948 by George Bowen and was led for decades by Gene Roads. Stephen Tappe succeeded Roads as director, and for the last 12 years or so, Casey Cantwell, choirmaster and organist at Trinity Episcopal Church, has directed TBS. Jackie Boyd Saylor has served as assistant director under Roads, Tappe, and Cantwell, commuting for many years from her home in Ponca City.

I'm very sad that, because of prior commitments I can't change, I won't be able to attend the final performance of an organization that has meant so much to our family. My oldest son joined at the age of nine, starting as a treble and finishing as a low bass. (That's him on the far left of a photo from around 2007). His tenure included TBS's singing tour of Britain in 2007. My youngest began at the age of five in TBS's junior choir but couldn't participate this year because of conflicts with another musical training program. My oldest son's first performance, at Philbrook's Festival of Trees, providentially opened the door to my dad becoming Philbrook's official Santa Claus for many years.

TBS introduced my sons to a high level of rehearsal and ensemble performance and the beauties of classical music and instilled both a solid foundation for musicianship and confidence in public performance. My biggest gripe against TBS is that there hasn't been an choral program for girls as devoted to high standards of repertoire and performance.

Many thanks to Casey and Jackie and the alumni and parents who have sustained TBS for so many years. I hope that many alumni and friends of TBS show up this Friday night to salute their efforts, to enjoy beautiful music in the beautiful Gothic surroundings of Trinity Episcopal Church, and to celebrate what TBS has meant to our community.

Citizen-Jane.jpgCitizen Jane, a film documenting the struggle to preserve Lower Manhattan from being destroyed by expressway construction in the 1960s, is currently showing at Tulsa's Circle Cinema. A special event at the 2:00 pm showing on Sunday, May 21, 2017, will pay tribute to Tulsa activist Betsy Horowitz, who led the successful fight to preserve Maple Ridge and River Parks from a planned expressway.

Jane Jacobs, a journalist by training and a Greenwich Village resident, turned her lessons learned fighting the city planners into a number of books that have stood the test of time, the most famous of which is The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what makes a neighborhood or district thrive and what makes it fail.

Citizen Jane is a timely tale of what can happen when engaged citizens fight the power for the sake of a better world. Arguably no one did more to shape our understanding of the modern American city than Jane Jacobs, the visionary activist and writer who fought to preserve urban communities in the face of destructive development projects. Director Matt Tyranuer (Valentino: The Last Emperor) vividly brings to life Jacobs' 1960s showdown with ruthless construction kingpin Robert Moses over his plan to raze lower Manhattan to make way for a highway, a dramatic struggle over the very soul of the neighborhood. The highway would have eliminated much of Washington Square Park and other Manhattan landmarks. Because of organized community opposition led by Jacobs, the project was dropped in 1969.

In Tulsa in the late 1960s, an outspoken Maple Ridge resident, Betsy Horowitz (1929-2009), similarly led the successful grassroots effort to oppose the Riverside Expressway that would have taken out historic Maple Ridge homes and Lee Elementary School, prevented the establishment of the Tulsa's River Parks and eliminated the opportunity for the current development of the much anticipated A Gathering Place. The Oklahoma Highway Department officially cancelled the expressway project in 1972. Betsy once stated that "to save Maple Ridge and Lee School was not just a dream of mine; it was a passion that became an obsession."

Circle Cinema has invited Andrew Horowitz, Betsy's son, to speak about his mother's efforts and passion after a screening of the film on Sunday, May 21, at 2pm. The Tulsa Historical Society will have a display of materials in the Circle lobby reflecting the events that unfolded during the battle over the proposed Riverside Expressway.


MORE:

Here's my tribute to Betsy Horowitz following her death in 2009. Unfortunately, the Goodbye Tulsa podcast interview (dead link) with Betsy's son Andrew Horowitz has vanished from the web; it wasn't captured by Internet Archive. (If someone has it, send it to me and I'll host it here.)

Here's my tribute to Jane Jacobs from 2006, which highlights three of her big ideas about cities and neighborhoods.

From 2005, my urban design reading list, which includes Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities.

In 2011, Roberta Brandes Gratz, author of The Battle for Gotham, posted a thoughtful review of Jane Jacobs' legacy, in light of claims that she was responsible for NIMBYism.

The transgender debate is very personal to cultural critic Camille Paglia, professor of literature at University of the Arts in Philadelphia, as she tells Washington Free Beacon writer Sam Dorman, in a highly-quotable interview about her latest book Free Women, Free Men. Paglia, a Catholic-raised atheist lesbian who nevertheless reveres the classic arts and literature produced by Western Civilization, dissents strongly (and entertainingly) from leftist and feminist orthodoxy. In this interview, Paglia debunks Democrat excuses for Hillary Clinton's defeat, explains Donald Trump's victory, evaluates the political impact of Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and Elizabeth Warren, and criticizes the Left for ignoring the ethical realities of abortion. But I particularly want to call your attention to this passage, in which she describes her own experience of "gender dysphoria" and articulates what used to be commonsense about transgenderism, locker rooms, and personal pronouns.

[Dorman:] You say you were never encouraged by "misguided adults" to believe that you were actually a boy or "that medical interventions could bring that hidden truth to life." Do we have an obligation to not participate in or encourage someone's gender dysphoria in adulthood, or just childhood?

[Paglia:] My lifelong gender dysphoria has certainly been a primary inspiration for my entire career as a researcher and writer. I have never for a moment felt female--but neither have I ever felt male either. I regard my ambiguous position between the sexes as a privilege that has given me special access to and insight into a broad range of human thought and response. If a third gender option ("Other") were ever added to government documents, I would be happy to check it. However, I have never believed, and do not now, that society has any obligation to bend over backwards to accommodate my particular singularity of identity. I am very concerned about current gender theory rhetoric that convinces young people that if they feel uneasy about or alienated from their assignment to one sex, then they must take concrete steps, from hormone therapy to alarmingly irreversible surgery, to become the other sex. I find this an oddly simplistic and indeed reactionary response to what should be regarded as a golden opportunity for flexibility and fluidity. Furthermore, it is scientifically impossible to change sex. Except for very rare cases of intersex, which are developmental anomalies, every cell of the human body remains coded with one's birth sex for life.

Beyond that, I believe that my art-based theory of "sexual personae" is far more expansive and truthful about human psychology than is current campus ideology: who we are or want to be exceeds mere gender, because every experimental persona that we devise contains elements of gesture, dress, and attitude rich with historical and cultural associations. (For Halloween in childhood, for example, I defiantly dressed as Robin Hood, a Roman soldier, a matador, Napoleon, and Hamlet.) Because of my own personal odyssey, I am horrified by the escalating prescription of puberty-blockers to children with gender dysphoria like my own: I consider this practice to be a criminal violation of human rights. Have the adults gone mad? Children are now being callously used for fashionable medical experiments with unknown long-term results.

In regard to the vexed issue of toilets and locker rooms, if private unisex facilities can be conveniently provided through simple relabeling, it would be humane to do so, but I fail to see why any school district, restaurant, or business should be legally obligated to go to excess expense (which ultimately penalizes the public) to serve such a minuscule proportion of the population, however loud their voices. And speaking of voices: as a libertarian, I oppose all intrusion by government into the realm of language, which belongs to the people and which evolves organically over time. Thus the term "Ms." eventually became standard English, but another 1970s feminist hybrid, "womyn", did not: the populace as a whole made that decision, as it always does with argot or slang filtering up from ethnic or avant-garde subgroups. The same principle applies to preferred transgender pronouns: they are a courtesy that we may choose to defer to, but in a modern democracy, no authority has the right to compel their usage.

Continued from previous entry:

After a delicious catered barbecue lunch, the convention was called back to order at about 1:15 pm. With officer elections out of the way, surely we could get through the remaining order of business -- seven proposed amendments to the state party rules, a resolution, and the platform -- in two or three hours. Not quite.

Proposed rule change 1 (17 (d) 6): Requiring convention rules committee to submit its report to county chairman two weeks before the convention. This was defeated by a voice vote, following a claim that the rules already required 10 days notice, a claim that seems to be based on rule 20 (d) 2, which applies to proposed amendments to permanent state rules.

Proposed rule change 2 (new subsection of 17(d): Requiring convention rules committee to make recommendations on proposed amendments to the permanent rules. The wording and placement generated some confusion, and the proponent wasn't present to explain his intentions. After too much time taken by debate in the guise of questions, the motion was defeated by a voice vote.

Proposed rule changes 3 and 4: Two separate proposals to remove the last vestiges of sex distinction from the state party rules. Previous conventions had revoked the requirement for chairman and vice chairman to be of opposite sexes. This proposal replaced state committeeman and woman and district committeeman and woman from each county with two state committee members and two district committee members. Proposed change 3 was defeated as less comprehensive than change 4. Change 4 passed by voice vote, but some delegates spoke against it, believing that this was not the cultural moment to obliterate all distinctions between the sexes. The Oklahoma GOP move toward eliminating sex distinctions arose in reaction to the Left's push for "affirmative action" and diversity enforced through strict quotas in the Democrat party.

Proposed rule change 5: This rule would have created a new rule, requiring the state chairman to ask Republican candidates for president or for Oklahoma statewide or federal office to identify the planks in the Oklahoma Republican platform with which they agree:

The Oklahoma Republican Party State Chairman, in the interest of informing the voting public during primary elections and special elections, shall request Republican candidates for President of the United States of America and Oklahoma's statewide and federal congressional elected offices to affirm which sections of the Platform of the Oklahoma Republican Party they support. This request shall be made to official candidates within ten (10) business days of the filing deadline for these offices. The deadline for candidate response is ten (10) business days from the date of the Chairman's request. This request and responses to it may be made in written, typed, or electronic form. The Platform shall be made available to the candidates in the request.

The State Chairman shall make public the candidates' responses, or failure to respond, on the Oklahoma Republican Party's website and to the press within ten (10) business days of the request deadline. The Oklahoma statewide-elected offices are Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Auditor and Inspector, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Insurance, and Corporation Commissioner. The Oklahoma federal congressional elected offices are United States Congressman and United States Senator.

In the event that county parties conduct candidate examinations, the results of such examinations shall be delivered to the State Chairman, and the Chairman shall make public such results on the Oklahoma Republican Party's website within ten (10) business days of receiving the results.

In the event of refusal or failure of the Oklahoma Republican Party State Chairman to adhere to this rule and to discharge the obligations under this rule, any member of the Oklahoma Republican Party State Committee may call the Chairman to act and may call for a meeting of the State Committee to implement appropriate action. Refer to Rule 10.c. of the Rules of the Oklahoma Republican Party for information regarding calling a meeting of the State Committee.

For years, activists have sought to put some teeth in the platform. This is a very mild proposal that imposes no obligations on candidates, nor does it withhold any party resources from candidates who refuse to participate. It simply requires the state chairman to put the platform before the candidates, allowing them to identify those planks with which they agree, and then to publish their replies.

Nevertheless, most of those who do politics as a living -- lobbyists, consultants, staffers -- seem to see any intrusion of principle into politics as a threat to their bosses and thus to their own livelihoods. LePetomane's Imperative applies: "Officia nostra phoney-baloney defendenda sunt!"

Despite the frantic arguments by the politics-as-a-living crowd, the motion appeared to pass in a voice vote, but it was close. A standing vote followed, and once again the ayes appeared to have it. Someone raised the point of order that, because of county vote weighting, counting heads wasn't sufficient to determine the outcome according to the rules. A roll call vote would be necessary.

Cleveland and Oklahoma Counties went narrowly against. Tulsa County was about 2-to-1 in favor. The final weighted tally was 500.733 votes in favor, 502.267 votes against. The result, on the summary page of the spreadsheet, was displayed on the big video screens, along with the result from the chairman's election roll call earlier. Then people noticed something odd: The total number of weighted votes in the result from the chairman's election (677 -- Pollard 468.566, Aery 208.434) was lower than the number in the vote on Rule Change 5 (1003), even though it was obvious that many delegates had left at lunch time and fewer people were voting. Something was wrong, somewhere.

Not long thereafter, the big screens went dark. I went upstairs to where the computer operator was sitting, and where Pam Pollard and a few others had gathered to figure out what was going on. I was going up to suggest that showing the raw and weighted totals and the county vote weights on the screens would either reveal miscalculations or dispel concerns.

I won't get into details at this point -- there are a dozen or more people, including myself, who are independently scrutinizing the spreadsheet and in the near future there will be a report -- but I can tell you that an error was found in the chairman's race spreadsheet which did not change the outcome although it did narrow the result. The correct weighted tally was Pollard 908.604, Aery 631.396. I can also tell you that the Rule Change 5 tally was accurate. The raw vote was 257-256, but some of the "yes" votes had a lighter weight, because those counties had a higher proportion of their authorized delegates present. In one case, a county -- Cimarron -- had more delegates present than authorized votes, so its unanimous four delegates in favor translated to only two yes votes.

Proposed Rule Change 6: Convention Chairman Josh Cockroft ruled that because proposed Rule Change 6 was similar to Rule Change 5, it was now moot. In fact, although both have to do with candidates and the platform, RC6 was a substantively different proposal:

Rule 19.(i) Disclosure of Agreement of Candidates with Our Platform: For a Republican candidate for elective office to receive the endorsement and support of the Oklahoma Republican Party, he must read and mark up a copy of the current Oklahoma Republican Platform, indicating his agreement or disagreement with each plank with explanation as necessary, and make it available for review at the state Party office.

Proposed Rule Change 7: This simplified and clarified the rules for giving a proxy for voting in the State Committee (the governing body of the state party between conventions), passed by a voice vote.

Abortion ban resolution: By a convincing voice vote, the convention approved a resolution that directs an official statement by the state party to the governor, state legislators, and statewide officials calling on these officials to make abortion illegal in Oklahoma and to enforce such a law. The effect would be to set up an opportunity for the U. S. Supreme Court to vacate Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, recognizing those decisions as unconstitutional forays into legislating from the bench.

Platform: As 5 pm approached, we were ready to consider the platform, but late-arriving lobbyist Seth Rott made a point of order that a quorum was no longer present. A head count turned up 355 delegates, 59 shy of the required 50% of the initial count of 827. (It wouldn't surprise me if his incessant microphone-hogging bore some responsibility for the afternoon's proceedings dragging out to the point where delegates had to leave for other commitments.) While the convention rules prohibited a motion to adjourn prior to consideration of the platform, they didn't prohibit a quorum call, and perhaps in future years the should.

So that was it for the 2017 Oklahoma Republican Convention. As we gathered up to leave, an exhausted and heartbroken platform committee member from Tulsa County told me he had been up for 36 hours straight. He had given up two Saturdays to come to Oklahoma City to work on the platform and had been up all night the night before the convention to deal with news of a brother in another state who had suffered a heart attack, trying to decide if he needed to travel right away. Having decided that he could stay, he came to the convention, despite the lack of sleep, to be sure that all of the committee's hard work would come to fruition. He believed that this platform was a great improvement over the previously adopted document and was beyond disgusted that this selfish lobbyist would throw all of their hard work out the window.

The premature end of the convention also prevented a vote on a party mission statement proposed by Canadian County Chairman Andrew Lopez. More on that in a later entry.

DOCUMENTS:

RESULTS: Tressa Nunley has won the GOP primary with 64% of the vote. Vote totals: Nunley 528, Berg 234, Steele 54, Oatsvall 8. On July 11, Nunley will face the Democrat nominee, Karen Gaddis, who won that primary over Robin Smith by a vote of 289 to 161. In central Oklahoma, the Republican nominee barely held on to House 28, the seat that was vacated by Tom Newell, who quit to go to work for the Foundation for Government Accountability.

Today, May 9, 2017, there is a special primary election in House District 75 to fill the unexpired term of Dan Kirby, who resigned in disgrace.

The turmoil we see in Oklahoma City, the failure to act decisively to cut tax giveaways to special interests and to cut wasteful government spending, is a reflection of the number of unprincipled men and women who won election by paying lip service to conservative principles but who were, in fact, selfishly seeking access to money, power, or sex. If we want to get out of this mess, we need to elect grounded men and women of tested character.

Four candidates are seeking the Republican nomination to fill the House 75 vacancy: Tressa Nunley, Nik Berg, AJ Oatsvall, and former City Councilor Skip Steele.

The basic outlines of House 75: Memorial to 193rd East Ave, 31st to 61st Streets.

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If I lived in House 75, I would vote for Tressa Nunley, who has been endorsed by many of the conservative politicians I've seen do the right thing, even under pressure. People like County Assessor Ken Yazel, State Rep. George Faught, State Sen. Dave Rader, former State Rep. Pam Peterson, former DA Tim Harris, former assistant Attorney General Chris Thrutchley, and conservative activist Dan Hicks know Tressa Nunley and have endorsed her because they trust her to stick to her principles and resist the blandishments of lobbyists and bureaucrats.

Nunley also has the endorsement of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.

I should mention that Nik Berg also has the support of someone I trust, State Sen. Nathan Dahm. But because there is no runoff in a special primary election, there's a danger that principled conservatives will split the vote between two candidates and neither will advance to the general election. Because Nunley has demonstrated strong support and solid organization, the smart vote for conservatives today is for Tressa Nunley.

Polls are open until 7 p.m.

A report from Saturday's 2017 Oklahoma Republican Party state convention at Firstmoore Baptist Church in Moore in two parts:

Registration went very smoothly. I couldn't arrive until 8:30, a half hour before the end of registration and the call to order, but within 5 minutes I had my badge and was on my way into the convention hall. Kudos to David Byte, who developed and set up the credentialing computer system, and the credentials committee members that got checked everyone in so efficiently. It speaks very highly of Byte's system that there was no change between the preliminary and final credentials reports. (In contrast, at the Tulsa County convention, where paper sign-in sheets were used, many precinct chairmen and delegates had to work with the credentials committee to correct erroneous delegate counts.) 823 delegates signed in before the 9 a.m. deadline.

Another five appeared after the deadline and were given the opportunity to make their case to the convention. One latecomer was annoyed at the requirement to make his excuses to the whole convention and opted to leave. The convention voted to seat the other four, including lobbyist Seth Rott, who, I am told, lives very near the venue, but still managed to arrive 15 minutes late, wearing t-shirt and jeans. I suspect that many delegates came to regret granting Rott an indulgence, as he frequently delayed the proceedings with debate under the guise of questions and points of order, and ultimately ended the convention by making a quorum call at around 5 p.m. which prevented the platform from being approved.

First order of business was a proposed state party rule change, deferred from 2016 convention because time ran out, requiring county executive committee members to be invited to county executive committee meetings, originally proposed in 2016. The rule change was approved by voice vote.

State Chairman Pam Pollard of Oklahoma City was re-elected to a full term over Tulsa challenger Robert Aery by a vote of 908.6 to 631.4, or 59% to 41%. (County votes are weighted based on the ratio of delegates casting a vote and the authorized vote, up to a maximum weight of 2 votes per delegate.) The split was geographical: Aery, formerly with Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma, did best in Tulsa (94-36) and a couple of nearby counties, while Pollard, who has been active in the party for well over a decade, won Oklahoma County (98-52) and Cleveland County (29-25) and unanimous or near-unanimous support from many rural counties. Other than Tulsa, Aery won Alfalfa (2-0), Canadian (13-7), Comanche (8-7), Grady (10-5), Harper (1-0), Kay (6-3), Kingfisher (2-1), Muskogee (9-7), Rogers (11-9), Stephens (16-2), and Washington (13-9). In Tulsa County, Aery had support from members of both the politics-is-a-living and the politics-is-about-principle factions here.

The campaign to replace Pollard focused on a decline in individual donations to the party over the last year, the loss of Senate 34 to a Democrat who was a popular high school coach in the special election to replace Rick Brinkley, the failure to recapture House 85, which had been lost to the Democrats in a September 2015 special election, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's cancellation of his planned speech to the convention's gala dinner, over accusations that speaking would violate the Federal Hatch Act.

On the latter point, Pollard was blamed for a party email that somehow changed the nature of the event to a party fundraiser, making it inappropriate for Pruitt to attend. But the convention gala has always been a party fundraiser, so it was no more or less appropriate for Pruitt to attend before the email went out than after, although Pruitt stated that prior to the email, EPA ethics office had approved the appearance.

The day before the convention, an email attacking Pollard went out to convention delegates from pam at pampollard.com from a group calling itself "Lifelong Republicans Interested in REAL Leadership." The email linked to the pampollard.com website (which went dark sometime after the convention vote), which repeated the attacks. The email claimed as the organization's address as 4020 N Lincoln Blvd #100, OKC, OK 73105, which is the former address of Majority Designs and AH Strategies, the defunct firms founded by indicted political consultant Fount Holland. The thought crossed my mind that while the email and website were probably a straightforward attack intended to hurt Pollard, this plausibly could have been an attempt to hurt Aery by connecting his campaign to unseat Pollard to an anonymous attack and to a disgraced political consultant.

(UPDATE 2017/05/09: Ethics filings by Zack Taylor, the Republican winner in the House 28 special election, indicate that the firm Advocacy Insight LLC used that address at least through March 2, 2017. After that time, the address given is PO Box 54653, OKC 73154 until April 21, 2017, and in the last entry in the report, the address was listed as 401 NE 46th St, OKC, 73105.)

After the chairman vote, Vice Chairman DeWayne McAnally was reelected without opposition.

During the course of the morning session, while waiting for credentials reports or votes being cast, delegates heard from National Committeeman Steve Curry and National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty. Tribute was paid to the late State Representative David Brumbaugh and Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.

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State Auditor Gary Jones announces campaign for governor at the 2017 Oklahoma Republican Convention.

State Auditor Gary Jones and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb both announced that they are running for governor. Attorney General Mike Hunter, recently appointed to fill Scott Pruitt's unexpired term, will be running for a full term. Several other candidates for 2018 also spoke: Gary Richardson (running for governor), former Republican State Chairman Matt Pinnell (running for lieutenant governor), and Deputy State Auditor Cindy Byrd (running for state auditor).

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Lieutenant Governor candidate Matt Pinnell and family at the 2017 Oklahoma Republican Convention.

The afternoon session dealt with proposed state party rule changes, a resolution calling for an abortion ban, and the successful attempt to kill the proposed party platform, but I'll cover that in a later entry.

But Trump is Cyrus or Constantine or something....

Yahoo News: Trump's executive order disappoints religious conservatives

"The executive order on the whole looks to accomplish very little of substance, against the backdrop of a lot of show," said John Inazu, a professor of law and religion at Washington University in St. Louis and author of "Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference."...

The biggest disappointment for religious conservatives was that Trump did nothing to assist them in ongoing conflicts with gay rights advocates that have played out, most conspicuously, over the rights of Christian bakers or photographers who do not want to provide services for same-sex weddings. The most pressing concern for most religious conservatives is what they see as growing hostility to their religious beliefs about sexuality and marriage.

"Twice now, he has failed to stand up for common-sense policy on religious liberty when liberal opponents lashed out against it," [Heritage Foundation's Ryan] Anderson wrote....

Many conservatives suspected that Vice President Mike Pence, whom they see as an ally, was outmaneuvered by the president's daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who are influential advisers with top White House jobs. The two are widely believed to be sympathetic to the cause of gay rights.

As governor of Indiana, Pence championed a broad religious liberty bill but watered it down after widespread criticism, angering his conservative allies. Now that he's in the White House, he was expected to fight hard for a strong executive order as a way of making amends to that wing of the party.

Last week, a Republican Senate aide told me the word about the religious liberty order on Capitol Hill was that "President Jared has it on hold." The aide added: "I haven't seen any evidence that Pence has the pull to trump Jared."

Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation:

Twice now, he has failed to stand up for commonsense policy on religious liberty when liberal opponents lashed out against it.

Back in February, he caved to the protests of liberal special interest groups as he declined to issue an executive order on religious liberty that had been leaked to hostile press.

And earlier today, he issued an executive order on "free speech and religious liberty" that does not address the major threats to religious liberty in the United States today.

Today's executive order is woefully inadequate. Trump campaigned promising Americans that he would protect their religious liberty rights and correct the violations that took place during the previous administration....

In reality, what Trump issued today is rather weak. All it includes is general language about the importance of religious liberty, saying the executive branch "will honor and enforce" existing laws and instructing the Department of Justice to "issue guidance" on existing law; directives to the Department of the Treasury to be lenient in the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment; and directives to the secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services (HHS) to "consider issuing amended regulations" to "address conscience-based objections" to the HHS contraception mandate.

But the federal government should be honoring and enforcing our religious liberty laws anyway, legislation is required to actually address the Johnson Amendment--which isn't the prime priority on religious liberty--and the Supreme Court has already unanimously instructed the federal government to resolve the case....

There is still time for Trump to make good on his promises. He can still issue an executive order based on that February draft, and then Congress can act to make those provisions permanent.

Congress could start by passing the Russell Amendment, the Conscience Protection Act, and the First Amendment Defense Act. Trump promised to sign into law both the Conscience Protection Act and the First Amendment Defense Act.

Trump promised while on the campaign trail that he would robustly defend religious freedom from pressing threats. Today, he didn't make good on that promise. But he still can, and should.


The ACLU isn't bothered by it one bit
, because they don't see it as impeding their anti-Christian aims.

The ACLU said Trump did not make good on his prior assertion to "totally destroy" the Johnson Amendment and said the directive to federal agencies to explore religious-based exceptions to healthcare lacks teeth but may lay the groundwork for a future legal battle.

"What President Trump did today was merely provide a faux sop to religious conservatives and kick the can down the road on religious exemptions on reproductive health care services," Romero said.

The order signed did not include language in a leaked draft that critics fear would allow federal contractors to refuse service to LGBT employees because of their faith.

From Gregory S. Baylor, Senior Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization that provides legal firepower to defend individuals and organizations who are being attacked for their religious convictions:

"During his campaign, President Trump stated that the first priority of his administration would be to preserve and protect religious liberty. In speeches, he said the Little Sisters of the Poor and other people of faith will always have their religious liberty protected on his watch and will not have to face bullying from the government because of their religious beliefs. Religious voters took him at his word, giving the president a mandate to affirm and protect Americans' first freedom.

"The current outline of the Religious Liberty Executive Order released by White House officials recalls those campaign promises but leaves them unfulfilled.

"First, no specific relief is offered to families like the Vander Boons in Michigan, who were threatened with the effective closure of their family-run business for simply expressing a religious point of view on marriage that differed from that of the federal government....

"A pledge to 'provide regulatory relief' is disappointingly vague, especially given the long existence of an obvious means of solving the problem: crafting an exemption that protects all those who sincerely object on religious and moral grounds so that they can continue to serve their communities and the most vulnerable among them. We encourage the administration to pursue that course of action and to do so promptly so that it can resolve the dozens of cases still pending against it.

"We strongly encourage the president to see his campaign promise through to completion and to ensure that all Americans--no matter where they live or what their occupation is--enjoy the freedom to peacefully live and work consistent with their convictions without fear of government punishment."


Everett Piper reacts, and his thoughts echo those of a New York City conservative I met during the 2004 Republican National Convention, who called the Democrats the "party of the crotch":

Very disappointed.

It doesn't even address the sexual fascism that undergirds nearly all of the anti-religious fervor from the Left.

Think about it - Nearly everything they champion is about sex.

  • Abortion: We want to have sex like rabbits and then kill our offspring before our children are born.
  • Gay Marriage: We want to have sex with whoever we want to have sex with and then force the church to sanction it.
  • Obamacare mandates: We want to have sex any time and any place and force the state (i.e. the public) to pay for meds to mitigate the consequences and the diseases we suffer as the result.

The loss of religious freedom all comes down to the state forcing us to worship at the altar of sexual fascism. It all comes down to the state "establishing" a new religion in the temple of Diana - a religion of prostitution and child sacrifice (again all about sex) - and forcing all of us to bow down in submission and worship the state's god.

The Oklahoma Bar Association, the leftist monopoly guild that has an effective veto over judicial appointments in our state, will be funneling money to the totalitarian Communist Castro regime with the organization's "President's Cruise" to Cuba this summer. Linda Thomas, mentioned in the flyer, is the current OBA president.

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At the bottom of this post are the contents of an email sent to Oklahoma attorneys, urging them to sign up for this cruise -- which includes 6 credit hours of Continuing Legal Education! The OBA, which claims to stand for the rule of law, is planning a luxury trip to a country where law is used as a tool to suppress dissent.

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Lenin's arrival in Petrograd and the beginning of the Communist takeover of Russia. Over the subsequent century, Communist regimes have butchered over 100 million people, and even today one of every five people on the planet lives under single-party Communist control in China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam.

From Freedom House's 2017 report on Cuba:

Cuba is a one-party communist state that outlaws political pluralism, represses dissent, and severely restricts freedoms of the press, assembly, speech, and association. The government of Raúl Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel as president in 2008, monopolizes the bulk of economic activity within centralized and inefficient state enterprises. Increased engagement with the United States under the administration of President Barack Obama did not result in the lifting of restrictions....

Arbitrary detentions reached more than 9,000 during the first 10 months of 2016, the highest level in seven years. Government repression of the island's increasingly dynamic independent digital press also increased....

Political dissent, whether spoken or written, is a punishable offense, and dissidents are systematically harassed, detained, physically assaulted, and frequently sentenced to years of imprisonment for seemingly minor infractions. The regime has called on its neighborhood-watch groups, known as Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, to strengthen vigilance against "antisocial behavior," a euphemism for opposition activity. This has led to the use of "acts of repudiation," or supposedly spontaneous mob attacks, to intimidate and silence political dissidents....

Official obstacles hamper religious freedom in Cuba. Churches may not conduct ordinary educational activities, and many church-based publications are plagued by state as well as self-censorship....

Academic freedom is restricted in Cuba. Teaching materials commonly contain ideological content, and affiliation with PCC structures is generally needed to gain access and advancement in educational institutions. On numerous occasions, university students have been expelled for dissident behavior, a harsh punishment that effectively prevents them from pursuing higher education. ...

The Council of State has total control over the courts and the judiciary. Laws on "public disorder," "contempt," disrespect for authority," "pre-criminal dangerousness," and "aggression" are frequently used to prosecute political opponents.

A report this past week from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (an arm of the Organization of American States) has Cuba and Venezuela on the human rights "blacklist."

Regarding Cuba, the report details the high levels of repression, as well as excessive restriction on protests as well as dismissals and threats to government employees if they manifest any opposition to the policies implemented by the ruling party.

They also mention that the island remains on the list for "persistent restrictions on political rights, freedom of association, freedom of expression and dissemination of thought, lack of independence of the judiciary and restrictions on freedom of movement," which the report stresses, "continue to systematically limit the human rights of the inhabitants" of Cuba.


A few examples from the most recent report by Human Rights Watch:

Detention is often used preemptively to prevent people from participating in peaceful marches or meetings to discuss politics. Detainees are often beaten, threatened, and held incommunicado for hours or days. Members of the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco)--a group founded by the wives, mothers, and daughters of political prisoners and which the government considers illegal--are routinely harassed, roughed up, and detained before or after they attend Sunday mass.

Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca, a blogger and videographer who often covers the Sunday demonstrations of the Ladies in White, wrote that police arbitrarily detained him on June 7 and drove him 30 miles from Havana, where they took him from the car at gunpoint, made him kneel on the grass, and put the gun to his neck, telling him he was "on notice" to stay away from the demonstrations....

A small number of journalists and bloggers who are independent of government media manage to write articles for websites or blogs, or publish tweets. However, the government routinely blocks access within Cuba to these websites, and those who publish information considered critical of the government are subject to smear campaigns and arbitrary arrests, as are artists and academics who demand greater freedoms....

Despite the release of the 53 political prisoners in conjunction with the agreement to normalize relations with the US, dozens more remain in Cuban prisons, according to local human rights groups. The government prevents independent human rights groups from accessing its prisons, and the groups believe there are additional political prisoners whose cases they cannot document....

The government restricts the movement of citizens within Cuba through a 1997 law known as Decree 217, which is designed to limit migration to Havana. The decree has been used to prevent dissidents from traveling to Havana to attend meetings and to harass dissidents from other parts of Cuba who live there....

In November 2013, Cuba was re-elected to a regional position on the UN Human Rights Council, despite its poor human rights record and consistent efforts to undermine important council work. As a member of the council, Cuba has regularly voted to prevent scrutiny of serious human rights abuses around the world, opposing resolutions spotlighting abuses in North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Ukraine.

Did anyone within the OBA leadership oppose making Cuba this year's vacation destination? If you're an OBA member -- and every practicing attorney in Oklahoma is required to be a member -- and don't publicly express opposition to this decision, it's reasonable to assume that you approve.

MORE:

Last year, Cuban dissident Armando Valladares marked the return of cruise ships to Cuba with a report on ongoing human rights abuses:

Just weeks before Carnival's maiden voyage to Cuba, hundreds of government workers in eastern Cuba surrounded and demolished the Strong Winds Ministry Church of Las Trunas and threatened to throw its pastor, Reverend Mario Jorge Travieso, in jail for seven years if he said a word about it. The church's crime? Failure to register with the government. Strong Winds was the fourth church to be destroyed by the government in 2016.

The Cuban government is especially good at violating the human rights of its people, and then labeling the victims as the criminals. I spent 22 years in Castro's gulags for the simple crime of refusing to place a sign on my desk that read: "I'm with Fidel." I lost 22 years of my life, and countless friends and family, for that sin against the regime. I spent eight of those years naked, when I refused to wear the prison uniform of a criminal. Of his treatment at the hands of the Cuban authorities, after they had destroyed his church and the house of worship for many more, Rev. Travieso said he was made to feel "like a common delinquent."


The text of the OBA email (on the jump page):

One of the biggest fears of any Christian parent is that his child will abandon the faith in which he was raised once he's away from home. Some charismatic peer or professor will attempt to convert him to a new religion, which could be anything from a different branch of Christianity to a pseudo-Christian cult group to leftist fascism. The would-be proselytizer will have the advantages of being in your kid's face while you're hundreds of miles away. The offer of peer acceptance and belonging is a powerful lure. Not only are you not there to offer a rebuttal, if the proselytizer is skilled at mind control, he'll so alienate your kid from you and your values, you won't be given the opportunity of a rebuttal. It's a scary thought, and Christian parents invest much time and treasure in Christian schools, apologetics courses, and church youth groups and a lot of time on their knees in prayer in hopes that it won't happen to their children.

So as a dad with one kid in college and another soon to follow, I read with interest the story of Chelsen Vicari, Director of Evangelical Action for the Institute of Religion and Democracy, and soon-to-be a mom. Vicari recently spoke to the Regent University School of Government, her grad school alma mater, about her journey from vague, shallow conservative evangelicalism to trendy liberal evangelicalism to a well-grounded Biblical Christian faith. She went to a college as a Christian with a vague but traditional understanding of the faith, which was undermined not by antagonistic secular professors, but by fellow evangelical Christians and a desire to fit in and be seen as a good, kind person.

During my junior year I plugged into a wildly popular interdenominational campus ministry.... To be clear, there were no blatant liberal creeds in the sermons or instructions to vote for President Obama in the '08 elections. Instead, there were some individuals within leadership that prioritized concepts of love and grace while minimizing absolute truths, the authority of Scripture, and traditional moral ethics....

At first I could tell this was a different kind of theology than what I was used to. I pushed back a little on some things. But ultimately, my biggest fear was of being ostracized by my new Christian friends....

By the end of my senior year, due in part to a lack of knowledge and painful experiences, I started to embrace a liberal paradigm in the name of Christianity. Failing to see how that paradigm was actually working contrary to Christianity. Convinced that my progressive faith was more righteous than the backwards, outdated, uncompassionate Christianity of my parents. Because how dare they make statements like, "Homosexuality is a sin." How unloving was that!

As you know, sexuality and gender identity are the prominent cultural issues facing the Church today. Revisionist sexual ethics was definitely my biggest temptation. That's because I truly loved my gay friends at college. I wanted the best for them. Deep down I secretly had the feeling sex was designed for marriage between one man and one woman. But I didn't want to hurt my gay friends' feelings. Plus I dreaded the idea of going against the crowd. Selfishly, I wanted to be affirmed as a good, well-liked person....

Christianity is comprised of two millennia of agreed upon Church teaching on moral ethics. But I chose to exchange said two millennia of Church teaching for the opinions of a few popular authors and bloggers (some with little to no formal theological training). I didn't do in-depth reading, study primary sources, and consider the ramifications before jumping to a conclusion based on my feelings.

What turned her around was exposure to the sound arguments, lovingly delivered, of her graduate school professors at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. (How did a liberal evangelical end up at a conservative school? A generous scholarship offer.)

At Regent University my liberal biases were challenged by academic research and Christian apologetics. Here was a graduate program that unashamedly taught in accordance with Church creeds and history and the use of social science to confirm conclusions. Professors who were more concerned with obedience to our Savior than cultural trends.

There were no fiery darts thrown at my liberal biases by other students and teachers, only grace coupled with truth. Professors assigned me to read Charles Colson's How Now Shall We Live? Another encouraged me read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cheap Grace. It didn't take long for me to realize I was compromising traditional Christian teachings in pursuit of acceptance.

In the comments, I asked Vicari "what would have prepared you to face the leftward cultural pressure you encountered in the campus Christian group? To put it another way, what should parents, Christian school leaders, church youth group leaders be doing differently?" She replied:

First thought is a deeper theological education from both home and church. Pop Sunday school lessons and piecemeal Bible stories before bedtime were inadequate, for me anyway. So perhaps earlier introductions to apologetics or catechismic lessons. Talking with other Christian parents, it seems helpful when kids feel called to be heroes to a broken world on behalf of the faith. Instructing children to follow moral and ethical guidelines because "the Bible says so" isn't enough to prepare children to combat revisionist theology or a culture hostile to Christianity.

Adding to her suggestion of apologetics and catechism, I suggested instruction in logic, the history of Christianity, and understanding of non-Christian world views, and particularly learning how to spot attempts to smuggle non-Christian ideas under cover of Christian terminology.

Vicari expanded on her reply in a follow-up column, "Evangelicals, Kids, and Catechism." She writes that the knowledge imparted by learning a catechism is necessary but clearly not sufficient. The sentiments must be trained as well:

While I want to believe age-appropriate introductions to catechistic lessons and apologetics will thoroughly equip my daughter to encounter a broken world, I should know better.

Several of the mainline denominations uphold Protestant catechism in tutoring young congregants. Yet these denominations' leftward drift and decline are cautionary signs that something is missing.

Perhaps there's a cost to catechism without sentiment. That is to say, a child given head knowledge of Christian principles without an emotional attachment might lack a loyalty to Christ and His authority in adulthood.

On the other hand, it seems the Evangelical community has relied too heavily on sentiment. Sure, many Evangelical kids feel warm and fuzzy when talking about Jesus. However, they don't know enough about His teachings and ethics to defend them from distortions. Or, in some other cases, their parents walled them off from the outside world and they're biding their time until freedom.

Talking with other Christian parents, it seems a child needs both a head and heart connection with Christian teaching. A colleague noted it's helpful when kids feel called to be heroes to a broken world on behalf of the faith. "Kids want to be summoned to heroism - so why not challenge them to be moral or intellectual heroes?" asked George Weigel, theologian and IRD emeritus board member, in a recent address.

Parents can help train this hero mentality by encouraging both emotional loyalty and the theological foundations necessary to contend for the Gospel.

In her follow-up article, I hear echoes of C. S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man, in which he stresses that true education involves not only the instruction of the mind but the training of the sentiments. Without sentiments trained to delight in that which is good and true and beautiful and in Him who is Goodness and Truth and Beauty, education of the mind only corrupts the soul.

St Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it. Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought. When the age for reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in 'ordinate affections' or 'just sentiments' will easily find the first principles in Ethics; but to the corrupt man they will never be visible at all and he can make no progress in that science....

The head rules the belly through the chest-- the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. The Chest-Magnanimity-Sentiment--these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal.

The operation of The Green Book and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. It is an outrage that they should be commonly spoken of as Intellectuals.... It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so.

And all the time--such is the tragi-comedy of our situation--we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

The summons to heroism brings to mind the book Dedication and Leadership by Douglas Hyde. Hyde had been news editor of the Daily Worker in Britain, a card-carrying Communist for 20 years, then left the party and converted to Catholicism. But Hyde was appalled at how little the church demanded of its people despite its claim to ultimate truth.

Hyde discusses techniques used by the Communists that he felt Christians ought to appropriate, for example, involving the new recruit as early as possible in an activity, however seemingly fruitless, that publicly identifies him with his new creed and puts him in a position of defending it.

The most memorable aspect of the book was Hyde's story of Jim, a stammering electrician in the building trades. The Communists called this unimpressive man to great things and gave him the training to be a leader, and he rose to the occasion, becoming a leader in the party and, as an agent of the party, a leader in the trade union movement. At the conclusion of the tale, Hyde remarks:

Jim's story says much of what can be said about the training of a leader as the Communists see it. First, I inspired him, gave him the clearly-defined goal of a new and better world and the belief that he and others could between them achieve it provided that they prepared themselves sufficiently for the moment of opportunity. I gave him a sense of involvement in a battle, and the conviction that by going to classes he would gain the arms and ammunition required for the fight....

I can think of many a lapsed-Catholic Communist who has told me that when he was practicing the Faith the greatest responsibility he was ever given was to help, along with others, to move the chairs in the parish hall 'for Father'. Inside the Communist Party he was made to feel that he had something better than that to offer. And events proved that this was so.

Defensively hoping that our children will continue to adhere to the faith of their upbringing is not enough. If Christians truly believe that we have the answers that the world desperately needs, we need to model a willingness to sacrifice our time, our treasure, and our respectability to speak the truth in love, and we need to call and equip our children to do the same.

David Brumbaugh, RIP

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Oklahoma State Representative David Brumbaugh died Saturday night, April 15, 2017, of a heart attack. Brumbaugh, a Republican who had represented House District 76 in Broken Arrow since his first election in 2010 and chaired the House Republican Caucus, was 56 years old. He is survived by his wife and their two daughters. His funeral will be held Saturday, April 22, 2017, at 1 p.m. at Tulsa Bible Church, where Brumbaugh served as a deacon and Sunday School teacher. His body will lie in repose in the State Capitol on Thursday, April 20, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Brumbaugh was a consistent, principled conservative who was respected by his ideological adversaries for his gracious demeanor. I regarded him as a legislator who could be counted on to understand the issues, know which bills were and were not consistent with conservative principles, and then act in accordance with conservative principles. It was a pleasure to get to know him and speak with him about various issues.

Among many other bills signed into law, Brumbaugh was the author of a bill, approved in 2015, to protect the conscience rights of clergy with regard to solemnizing or recognizing a marriage. The same year, he authored a bill to tighten the definition of blight and to require an additional public hearing prior to adoption of an urban renewal plan.

Brumbaugh was a champion of county budget reform. In 2013, he advanced a bill, HB 1230, that would have required earmarked funds and carryover funds to be accounted for in the budget process. Because of pushback from county officials who apparently like the lack of oversight, the bill stalled after passing out of the Government Modernization committee. Shame on GOP legislative leaders for blocking such a simple and straightforward measure for financial accountability. In 2012, he successfully shepherded a bill requiring training for County Excise Board members, so that they would know their powers and responsibilities in considering millage requests from taxing entities.

His 2015 bill to protect electric utility customers from the involuntary imposition of "smart meters" passed unanimously in the Utilities Committee but never got a hearing before the whole house.

Those of you who, like me, despised the illegibly tiny letters on the signs for unnumbered Oklahoma turnpikes owe David Brumbaugh a debt of gratitude for advocating for their designation as state highways (e.g. Creek Turnpike as 364), with nice, big, legible numbers.

In the current legislature, Brumbaugh had introduced legislation further tightening the overbroad definition of "blight," requiring the State Auditor to post raw data sets from county audits to data.ok.gov, and requiring the Oklahoma Tax Commission to provide and the State Equalization Board to use actual revenues from the last five years in estimating revenue for the budget process.

May God bless Oklahoma with more trustworthy, principled, sensible legislators like David Brumbaugh. May God comfort his family as they mourn his homegoing.

MORE: The power-generation industry honors their fallen colleague:

If you never met David Brumbaugh at your plant or office, or at a user-group vendor fair--often with wife Shelley and occasionally daughters Abigail and Hannah--that's unfortunate. The late president of DRB Industries LLC was particularly knowledgeable on gas-turbine inlet and exhaust systems, air filters, and cooling towers, and always willing to share best practices and lessons learned. He was positive-minded and had an engaging personality; many in the electric-power industry benefited from his caring/sharing nature.

David died last Saturday evening (April 16) of a heart attack--so unexpected it left even close personal friends in shock. Rick Shackelford, division director, powerplant operations, for NAES Corp, knew Brumbaugh well, both personally and professionally. He told CCJ, "Such a terrible loss for Oklahoma. . .the power industry. . .his family. . .and his friends. David was a true-life world-changer."

Industry people generally are aware that David founded DRB Industries to support powerplant owner/operators in the selection, installation (including design and construction services to the degree necessary), inspection, and maintenance of filtration and cooling products. But that was only the tip of the iceberg for this perpetual-motion machine of a man.

Congratulations to Charles G. Hill, dean of Oklahoma bloggers, on the 21st anniversary of his website Dustbury, founded in the early, early days of the World Wide Web.

April 9, 1996, was the publication date of the first edition of Charles's opinion column, The Vent, which addressed the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the approaching anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing. The Vent has appeared almost-weekly since then -- precisely 48 editions per year. Charles notes that the site shares its April 9 birthday with Tom Lehrer and Hugh Hefner: "I suspect that the seven million or so words I've tossed up on the screen since 1996 are at least slightly affected by both of these chaps."

Despite illness this past year, he has managed at least one post per day since June 23, 2000, when he inaugurated his "sort of blog."

Tens of thousands of entries since then have ranged widely to fill creatively-named categories like Almost Yogurt, Tongue and Groove, Political Science Fiction, Blogorrhea, PEBKAC, and Rag Trade. (That's culture, music, politics, news from the blogosphere, computing, and fashion, respectively.)

On the 20th anniversary, Charles explained the origins of his long-running experiment in HTML Bad Examples and Bandwidth Wastage:

In the spring of 1996, I got the ridiculous idea that I ought to have a Web site of my very own. I'm not entirely sure what the tipping point was. My workplace had sent me and the corporate IT guy to an HTML class for no reason I could determine, and I came away from the experience wondering why anyone would bother. But hey, I was in my early forties, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to have one more skill in case I had to move on; all else being equal, I reasoned, employers would rather have someone younger, or at least with lower expectations. I was a member of Prodigy in those days, and Prodigy was pleased to offer me a full megabyte of Web space at no extra cost. In a couple of hours, I had hacked up seven pages of stuff, installed links across the lot, and uploaded them through something that only vaguely resembled FTP. "Chez Chaz," the least-lame name I could think up on short notice, was hung on top.

BatesLine's first link to Dustbury was in September 2003, to Charles's comment about a Wall Street Journal staffer turned homeless freelancer. His first mention of BatesLine was earlier in the same month, the day after the passage of the Vision 2025 arena tax. We first met in January 2005, at the first-ever Okie Blogger Bash at the Will Rogers Theater in Oklahoma City.

Dustbury has always been ars gratia artis, a rarity in these times of ars gratia pecunia -- never an advertiser or even a tip jar. But in the wake of some serious medical challenges last summer and some even more serious medical bills, a concerned friend set up a GoFundMe for Charles G. Hill. As a wee bit of thanks for 21 years of interesting and entertaining content, I dropped $42 in the offering plate, and I encourage you to do the same.

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It's the first Tuesday in April, April 4, 2017, and for many municipalities around Oklahoma (mainly those without their own charters), it's the day for electing city councilors or town trustees. Here's the complete list of April 4, 2017, elections in Oklahoma.

(It's great that we can now find info about any election in the State of Oklahoma in one central location. Wouldn't it be nice if all of the campaign finance and ethics reporting information were just as centralized and electronically searchable?)

Jenni White, the teacher and mom who was a leader in the fight to repeal Common Core in Oklahoma, is running for trustee in the town of Luther, in northeastern Oklahoma County.

Here in Tulsa County, there are two council seats each in Broken Arrow and Bixby, four seats in Jenks, and one seat each in Skiatook and Sperry up for election today.

Sperry also has a proposition on the ballot, a 20-year, 0.6% sales tax for capital improvements.

Two longtime Broken Arrow councilors, Craig Thurmond and Richard Carter, have drawn challengers, Rick Thomas and Debra Wimpee, respectively. Even though Broken Arrow is now the fourth most populous city in Oklahoma (only OKC, Tulsa, and Norman are larger), it is still governed by the "statutory charter," the default form of city government specified in the state statutes. This means that every seat on the council is elected at-large by the entire city. Thurmond currently serves as mayor and Carter as vice mayor; they are appointed to those positions by their peers on the council, so if either is defeated, the successful challenger would not automatically inherit the mayor or vice mayor position.

Debra Wimpee has the endorsement of a number of conservative legislators and activists, including State Sens. Nathan Dahm, Dan Newberry, and Joe Newhouse, State Reps. Kevin McDugle, David Brumbaugh, Michael Rogers, and Scott McEachin, Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel, and Wagoner County Assessor Sandy Hodges. Tulsa 9/12 Project leader and Broken Arrow resident Ronda Vuillemont-Smith has endorsed Debra Wimpee and Rick Thomas, saying, "It is PAST time for new blood on our city council," and noting that Carter has served on the Council for 24 years and Thurmond for 16.

It's also runoff election day for a handful of school board seats in which no one received a majority of the vote at the primary election in February.

One of those school board seats is here in Tulsa: Incumbent Lana Addison-Turner received 474 votes to 454 for challenger Jennettie P. Marshall. A third candidate received 60 votes, enough to keep either candidate from reaching the required 50% majority.

Here is video of Turner speaking at the "Exploring Equity community conversation" in February. The Oklahoma Eagle has endorsed Marshall for Office 3. Given the school board's insistence on lavishing big paychecks on executives in a time of tight budgets, it's time for a change, and I would vote for Marshall if I lived in District 3. (Here is a map of Tulsa Public Schools board member districts

MORE: The Tulsa County Republican Party has posted information about the party affiliations of council candidates in Broken Arrow, Jenks, Skiatook, and Sperry.

Edmond is electing a mayor and also has two propositions on its 2017 city ballot. The propositions would alter the comprehensive plan and zoning classification to enable a proposed mixed-use development consisting of 260,000 sq. ft. of retail and 350 residential units, to be called the Shops at Spring Creek. I can't think of another example of zoning changes going to a public ballot. If I'm understanding this story correctly, the Edmond City Council voted to approve the changes, but a citizen petition was filed to put the decision before the voters. As a result of SQ 750, which was narrowly approved in 2010, it takes the signatures of 5% of the number of votes cast in the previous race for governor to put an ordinance passed by a legislative body (such as a city council) before the voters for final approval. (CORRECTION: SQ 750 only affected statewide referenda; the threshold for municipal petitions is governed by Article XVIII, Section 4(b), and remains 25% of the "total number of votes cast at the next preceding election," which state courts have interpreted to mean the next preceding election at which all qualified municipal voters, and only they, could vote.

RESULTS: Edmondites voted down the zoning and planning referenda by nearly a 2-to-1 super majority. With this precedent in place, it will be interesting to see if citizens in other Oklahoma cities use this tool to override development-related legislation. The threshold would be easy to reach in Oklahoma City, which tends to have low turnout for its mayoral elections, but hard to reach in Tulsa, which has moved its municipal elections to coincide with state and federal general elections. This could be an interesting tool for citizen activists in metro suburbs. In Edmond, the previous city general election in April 2015 drew 2,808 voters, so the threshold to put this referendum on the ballot was a mere 702 signatures.

Congratulations to Jenni White and Rob Ford, elected to town trustee boards in Luther and Mounds, respectively. In Broken Arrow, Mayor Craig Thurmond was re-elected, but 24-year councilor Richard Carter was defeated by challenger Debra Wimpee. Jeannettie Marshall defeated incumbent Lana Turner for a seat on the Tulsa Public School board. Full results are available on the Oklahoma State Election Board website.

In the spotlight

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Latest links of interest:

A Story of Slavery in Modern America - The Atlantic

Alex Tizon, who came to America with his family from the Philippines in 1964, tells the story of the woman who was closer to him and his siblings than their own mother, who lived out her final years with his wife and children, and who finally had the chance to return home.

"Her name was Eudocia Tomas Pulido. We called her Lola. She was 4 foot 11, with mocha-brown skin and almond eyes that I can still see looking into mine--my first memory. She was 18 years old when my grandfather gave her to my mother as a gift, and when my family moved to the United States, we brought her with us. No other word but slave encompassed the life she lived. Her days began before everyone else woke and ended after we went to bed. She prepared three meals a day, cleaned the house, waited on my parents, and took care of my four siblings and me. My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly. She wasn't kept in leg irons, but she might as well have been. So many nights, on my way to the bathroom, I'd spot her sleeping in a corner, slumped against a mound of laundry, her fingers clutching a garment she was in the middle of folding."

This was Tizon's final story. He died in his sleep in March. "The Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Alex Tizon built an exemplary career by listening to certain types of people--forgotten people, people on the margins, people who had never before been asked for their stories. Alex's wife, Melissa Tizon, told me recently that her husband was always impatient with small talk, because he believed that all people had within them an epic story, and he wanted to hear those epic stories--and then help tell them to the world. 'Somewhere in the tangle of the subject's burden and the subject's desire is your story,' he liked to say."

Turning the page: Tulsa man finds work in living room after years of travel | Whatareyou | tulsaworld.com

Tulsa voice artist and audiobook narrator W. B. Ward talks about his craft:

"Ward said he never listened to an audiobook before taking the plunge into his current profession. He said it's recommended that people who voice books listen to others to see how they handle the job.

"'I don't like doing that, and I almost refuse to do that,' he said. 'Instead, I listen to a lot of real old-time radio -- the old Dragnet and the old Blondie. Father Knows Best is my favorite because these guys were actual masters at telling a story through vocals only and making it carry over, and they had to do this on a live basis seven days a week in some cases. So I consider these guys to be absolute masters and, all of us, we are just kindergartners playing in the sandbox right now.'

"Ward enjoys the old radio shows, and he said he uses them as 'sleeping pills.'

"'I used to watch TV to go to bed,' he said. 'But when you are listening to an old radio show, it doesn't matter which way you sleep. If you are watching TV, you had to lay a certain way to do it. With a radio program, it doesn't matter what position you are in or what room you are in. I love it.'"

(Good points. I used to use C-SPAN as a "sleeping pill" when traveling, but I found that light from a TV screen in a dark room would interfere with falling asleep. Also, old-time radio -- "Hancock's Half Hour" is my current favorite -- tends to have a more subdued dynamic range, where the brighter sound of contemporary radio -- car dealership ads, for example -- can rouse you from your slumber.)

Christian parents, your kids aren't equipped to be public school missionaries - TheBlaze

"...your child is not ready to be a missionary. He cannot be a 'witness' to others until he himself has been properly formed in the faith. It's no surprise that most of the young 'missionaries' we commission and send forth to minister to the lost souls in public schools quickly become one of the lost souls. We don't need to sit around theorizing about whether the missionary approach to education is wise or effective. We already know that it isn't. The vast majority of the parents who think their kids are being 'salt and light' to their peers in school are simply oblivious to the fact that their little Bible warriors have long since defected and joined the heathens. You can hardly blame the kids for this. They're just kids, after all. They aren't warriors. Warriors are trained and disciplined. Children are neither of those things. I imagine this is why St. Paul didn't travel to Athens and Corinth recruiting toddlers to help him carry the Gospel into pagan lands.

"Education is supposed to prepare a child to carry the torch of truth. That is, he's supposed to be ready to carry it once his education has been completed. This should not be a 'throw them into the deep end to see if they can swim' strategy. They can't swim. You and I can barely swim, morally and spiritually speaking, and we're adults. Do you expect your child to be more spiritually mature and morally courageous than you?"

OCPA - Oklahoma K-12 Education Spending & Revenue

Easy-to-navigate data compiled from the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System and State Department of Education.

Overview: Statewide education spending, student enrollment, and spending per student; from 2005-2006 to 2015-2016.

District Trends: Select a district to see the 11-year trend for spending and enrollment, and revenue and spending per student.

District Spending by Year: See spending by Function (such as instruction) and Category (such as salaries), both the dollar amount and by percent of total spending. Trend graphs are also included on this tab.

Function Detail: See a district's spending in detail, by Function type and details (objects) for each type.

Spending Detail: See a district's spending in detail, by Category type and details (objects) in each type.

Revenues: See the overview of a district's revenue by year.

Revenue Details: See the details of a district's revenue by sources of money and by funds.

Ranking: Which district spends the most on education, has the most revenue, has the largest enrollment, and the highest spending per students.

You Actually Would Die without Your Coffee: Aleteia

"Research the world over is confirming that drinking coffee keeps you alive ... but it doesn't work if you drink it in moderation. In fact, Harvard researchers found that low consumption of coffee is linked to deaths from heart-related illnesses. To get the health benefits of coffee, you have to drink it like you mean it.

"Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day gives you a longer life, making you 15 percent less likely to die early, lowering your risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke by 21 percent and slashing your risk for type 2 diabetes by 12 percent.

"Three cups of Italian-style espresso per day cuts the risk of prostate cancer in half. And a study in the British Medical Journal found that coffee helps prevent clogging of the arteries.

"When it comes to your brain, coffee does more than just help you feel alert. It has neuroprotective properties, and drinking it regularly can reduce your risk of Alzheimer's -- but to get the full 20 percent reduction, you have drink at least 3 cups per day."

After the Exile: Poetry and the Death of Culture | Public Discourse

"I have lately begun to wonder whether a good gauge of what I and other professors in arts and letters accomplish might be this: to raise up a few students every year who could read my old issues of magazines like The Century and understand half of what is there.

"Academe has largely become an institution devoted to the destruction of cultural memory. Most of my best freshmen Honors students have never heard of Tennyson, much less had their imaginations formed by his eminently humane and approachable poetry. That is no reflection on Tennyson in particular. They have also never heard of Milton, Wordsworth, Keats, and any number of the great artists in what is supposedly their mother tongue....

"We are a people now illiterate in a way that is unprecedented for the human race. We can decipher linguistic signs on a page, but we have no songs and immemorial stories in our hearts....

"I have sometimes been accused of wishing that the culture roundabout me were truly Catholic, or truly Christian, or truly something or other, but my principal objection to it is that it is no longer, properly speaking, a culture at all. The deep roots have been severed. There is no agriculture in a dust bowl of tumbleweeds, and no human culture among people who derive their mental landscape from the ephemeral and quasi-lingual utterances of the mass media and, God help us, from the new and improved inanities of mass education."

Incredibly Detailed Map of the World's Religions - Brilliant Maps

Colored by plurality religion in each census subdivision. In the USA, the county is used (census tract would have been even more interesting). In some countries, smaller geographical units are used. The article notes the existence of religion by default in Scandinavian nations. I suspect the difference in religiosity between Czechia and Slovakia, between Estonia and its Baltic neighbors, and between Vietnam and its neighbors is mainly a difference in the way those governments count religious adherents. Likewise, I don't think Australia is really that much more religious than New Zealand. I'd be interested to know how

Musical Museum | History

Near Kew in London, this museum began as a private collection of player pianos and grew to include self-playing violins and other musical entertainments. Here is a video of the early days of this museum, its founder, and some of the collection in operation, including a violano built by the Mills Novelty Company.

A MAN IN THE WOMEN'S RESTROOM AT DISNEYLAND -- The Get Real Mom

A man hangs out in the ladies' room at Disneyland, and no one challenges him:

"If this had been 5 years ago, you bet your a-- every woman in there would've been like, 'Ummm what are you doing in here?', but in 2017? the mood has shifted. We had been culturally bullied into silenced. Women were mid-changing their baby's diapers on the changing tables and I could see them shifting to block his view. But they remained silent. I stayed silent. We all did. Every woman who exited a stall and immediately zeroed right in on him...said nothing. And why? B/c I...and I'm sure all the others were scared of that 'what if'. What if I say something and he says he 'identifies as a woman' and then I come off as the intolerant a------ at the happiest place on earth? So we all stood there, shifting in our uncomfortableness...trading looks. I saw two women leave the line with their children. Still nothing was said. An older lady said to me outloud, 'What is he doing in here?' I'm ashamed to admit I silently shrugged and mouthed, 'I don't know.' She immediately walked out...from a bathroom she had every right to use without fear....

"...But this notion that we're shamed into silence b/c we might offend someone, has gone too far. There was a man in the bathroom. Not transgender. There was a man who felt entitled to be in the woman restroom, because he knew no one would say anything. There were 20-25 people by the time I left, who were scared and uncomfortable by his ominous presence. And the only thing stopping us, was our fear of political correctness and that the media has told us we don't know what gender is anymore. I never want to be in the position again....

"Gender must be clearly defined to keep women safe. We can not tell women they don't know what a man is anymore. We can not coddle this small fraction of people (people who are men, 'identify as women', but have made no external attempt to show that) at the risk of women and children everywhere. The wrong men will take advantage of this loophole and put others in danger. "


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